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Santiago Calatrava Valls

Santiago Calatrava in the Auditorio de Tenerife.
Personal information
Nationality Spanish
Birth date 28 July 1951 (1951-07-28) (age 58)
Birth place Valencia, Spain
Education Valencia Arts School
Valencia Architecture School
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Engineering Discipline Structural engineer, Architect, Sculptor
Institution memberships Institution of Structural Engineers
Practice name Santiago Calatrava
Significant projects Athens Olympic Sports Complex
Alamillo bridge
Chords Bridge
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències
Significant Awards AIA Gold Medal
IStructE Gold Medal
Eugene McDermott Award
Prince of Asturias Award

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951) is an internationally recognized and award-winning Valencian Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris and Valencia.


Early life and education

Calatrava was born in Benimámet, an old municipality now integrated as an urban part of Valencia, Spain, where he pursued undergraduate studies at the Architecture School and Arts and Crafts School. Following graduation in 1975, he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, for graduate work in civil engineering. In 1981, after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice.


Calatrava's early career was dedicated largely to bridges and train stations, whose designs elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights. His Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona, Spain (1991) in the heart of the 1992 Olympic site was a turning point in his career, leading to a wide range of commissions. The Quadracci Pavilion (2001) of the Milwaukee Art Museum was his first building in the US. Calatrava’s entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden.

Calatrava is currently designing the future train station - World Trade Center Transportation Hub - at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.

Calatrava’s style has been heralded as bridging the division between structural engineering and architecture. In the projects, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering that includes Félix Candela and Antonio Gaudí. Nonetheless, his style is also very personal and derives from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world.


Recent projects

Puente del Alamillo at night, made for the Expo 92, Seville, (1992)
Tenerife Opera House, Canary Islands, Spain
TGV train station in Liège, Belgium
Bahnhof Stadelhofen in Zürich.

One of his newest projects is a residential skyscraper named 80 South Street after its own address, composed of 10 townhouses in the shape of cubes stacked on top of one another. The townhouses move up a main beam and follow a ladder-like pattern, providing each townhouse with its own roof. The "townhouse in the sky" design has attracted a high profile clientele, willing to pay the hefty US$30 million for each cube. It is planned to be built in New York City's financial district facing the East River. As of 2008 this project had been canceled; the Manhattan real estate market had gone soft, and none of the ten multi-million dollar townhouses had been sold.

He has also designed the approved skyscraper, the Chicago Spire, in Chicago. Originally commissioned by Chicagoan Christopher Carley, Irish developer Garrett Kelleher purchased the building site for the project in July 2006 when Carley's financing plans fell through. Construction of the building began in August 2007 for completion in 2011. When completed, the Chicago Spire, at 2,000 feet tall, will be the tallest building in North America.

Calatrava has also designed three bridges that will eventually span the Trinity River in Dallas. Construction of the first bridge, named after donor Margaret Hunt Hill, has been repeatedly delayed due to high costs, a fact that has sparked much controversy and criticism. If and when completed, Dallas will join the Dutch county of Haarlemmermeer in having three Calatrava bridges.

Santiago Calatrava was also recently hired to design Peace Bridge, a 130m pedestrian bridge to span the Bow River in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The bridge will cost approximately $24.5 million. The project was approved by city council in early January 2009 and is scheduled for completion in fall 2010. Public disclosure of Peace Bridge was made on 28 July 2009 to the public and praised as a sleek, elegant contribution to downtown Calgary. The design showed a sleek, tubular, single span red and white trestle, offering separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge is expected to serve 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists daily.

On 16 June 2009, it was announced that Calatrava would be designing the first building of the new University of South Florida Polytechnic campus in Lakeland Florida. This will be his first work in the southeastern United States.

Calatrava as sculptor

Calatrava is also a prolific sculptor and painter, claiming that the practice of architecture combines all the arts into one. In 2003, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held an exhibition of his artistic work, entitled "Santiago Calatrava: Sculpture Into Architecture." Exhibitions of his work have also taken place in Germany, England, Spain, Italy and elsewhere.

Notable works


Under construction/proposed

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in Redding, California.

Calatrava has also submitted designs for a number of notable projects which were eventually awarded to other designers, including the Reichstag in Berlin and the East London River Crossing.

Never built

  • 1991 Collserola communications tower in Barcelona. A tower shaped like a big white spaceship was proposed, but Norman Foster ultimately designed the tower.
  • A campus building for Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. His design was dropped for a less expensive design.[2]
  • New cathedral for the Diocese of Oakland, California, USA. Preliminary design dropped in favor of that by local architect Craig Hartman (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, San Francisco).
  • New bridge across Cávado River, Barcelos, Portugal. It was dropped due to lack of funds.
  • Substitute bridge (Wettstein Bridge) across Rhine River, Basel, Switzerland. It did not pass the cantonal referendum. A less expensive (and arguably less innovative) bridge was built instead.
  • 80 South Street, 835 foot tall stack of 10 condominium units on New York City's East River, starting at $27 Million each.[3]


Calatrava has received numerous recognitions. In 1990 he received the "Médaille d´Argent de la Recherche et de la Technique", Paris. In 1992 he received the prestigious Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers. In 1993, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a major exhibition of his work called “Structure and Expression." In 1998 he was elected to become a member of "Les Arts et Lettres," in Paris. In 2004, he received the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

In 2005, Calatrava was awarded the Eugene McDermott Award by the Council for the Arts of MIT. The Award is among the most esteemed arts awards in the US.[4]



Calatrava's work in Bilbao has been criticized for impracticality. The airport lacks facilities and the bridge's glass tiles are prone to break and get slippery under the local weather.[5] In 2007, Calatrava sued Bilbao[6] for allowing Arata Isozaki to remove a bar from the bridge to connect it to the Isozaki Atea towers. The judge ruled against Calatrava, on the ground that, although the building design is protected by the intellectual property law, public safety is more important than intellectual property.[7]. In a 2009 appeal he received 30.000€ in compensation. The Isozaki joint has been cited as bold and destructive.

Calatrava gifted the Municipality of Venice with the project of a new bridge on the "Canal Grande" in 1996. As of 2007, the project was still under construction. and has gone through numerous structural changes, because of the mechanical instability of the structure and the excessive weight of the bridge,[8] which would cause the bank of the canal to fail. In 10 years the project has been inspected by more than 8 different consultants and the cost has raised up to three times the original expectations;[9]. The work was completed in August 2008.


A special exhibition has been presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through 5 March 2006 [6]. Images from the exhibition.

Personal life

His nephew Alex Calatrava is a professional tennis player. His two sons have or are in the process of getting advanced degrees in Engineering from the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University in New York City.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ Established to honor Eugene McDermott, founder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor to MIT, the award was created by the Council for the Arts at MIT in 1974, and further endowed by Eugene's wife, Margaret. Since its inception, the Council has bestowed the award upon 31 individuals producing creative work in the performing, visual and media arts, as well as authors, art historians and patrons of the arts.
  5. ^ Entre losetas y y arquitectos 'estrellas', El Correo, 24 February 2007.
  6. ^ Calatrava lleva a los tribunales su guerra con Isozaki por los puentes de Uribitarte, El Correo, 22 February 2007.
  7. ^ El juez absuelve al Ayuntamiento de Bilbao de la demanda interpuesta por Santiago Calatrava, El Mundo, 26 November 2007.
  8. ^ [4],La Repubblica, 7 May 2007.
  9. ^ [5],L'Espresso, 8 May 2007.
Further reading
  • Tzonis, Alexander (1999). Santiago Calatrava: The Poetics Of Movement. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-0360-4. 
  • Tzonis, Alexander (2004). Santiago Calatrava: The Complete Works. Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-2641-4. 

External links


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